Republican Rep. Jim Jordan’s attempt to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives seems to have come to a screeching halt, as it appears that he faces sizable opposition from within his own party.
Sources close to Jordan announced on Thursday that he will not hold a third round of ballot voting after 20 Republicans voted against him in the first round and 22 opposed him in the second ballot earlier this week. But Jordan reversed course later that day, announcing that he would hold a third ballot after all, despite no change in opposition numbers.
The Ohio Republican had wanted to back a plan to temporarily give speakership powers to Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-North Carolina), who is currently acting as speaker pro tempore following former speaker of the House Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s (R-California) ouster earlier this month. It’s unclear whether such a move would be legal, even if done in a bipartisan manner. However, after meeting with members of the Republican conference on Thursday, it was clear that McHenry didn’t have the votes needed.
Jordan, whose right-wing views and deep fealty to former President Donald Trump were already problematic for a number of Republicans in the House, employed a flawed strategy to win the support of wayward members of the conference, commentators have pointed out.
Shortly after Jordan was selected as the party’s official nominee for speaker, it was reported that his plan for winning support from Republicans who didn’t back him was to hold votes in the House and figure out who among the conference voted against him. At that point, a pressure campaign against those detractors would begin.
“[The Jordan camp’s] strategy is simple: Smoke out the holdouts in a public floor vote and put them in a political pressure cooker,” Politico’s Playbook reporters wrote over the weekend.
The strategy extended to the holdouts’ constituents, as Jordan’s backers took to radio programs and social media to encourage voters to call their representatives’ offices in order to push them into backing Jordan.
But the strategy appears to have backfired in a major way, as the pressure campaign resulted in constituents threatening lawmakers.
In one instance, a Republican lawmaker, Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks of Iowa, said that her office received “credible death threats” as a result of the Jordan camp’s methods. Miller-Meeks had supported Jordan in the first ballot but switched her vote in the second round, which took place on Wednesday.
After doing so, she said in a statement, she received “a barrage of threatening calls,” including multiple in which she was issued death threats. As a result, she became more resolved to oppose Jordan for speaker.
“One thing I cannot stomach, or support is a bully,” Miller-Meeks said, adding that she “will not bend” to the bullying by Jordan and his supporters.
Other Republicans who have been pushed to support Jordan by constituents have voiced similar concerns, noting that the pressure campaign has also extended to their family members. One House GOP member said that his spouse was on the receiving end of multiple anonymous messages telling her “your husband better support Jim Jordan,” for example.
It’s clear that Jordan was aware that his initial strategy was backfiring before he announced that he wouldn’t pursue the speakership. Jordan made a number of direct calls to Republican lawmakers’ offices in order to clean up the messes made by his campaign team, and posted at least two messages to social media claiming that he didn’t support the tactics that were being used.
“We must stop attacking each other and come together,” Jordan wrote on X on Tuesday.
“No American should accost another for their beliefs,” he said in a post on Wednesday. “We condemn all threats against our colleagues and it is imperative that we come together.”
“Stop. It’s abhorrent,” he added — a command that could be directed to both his team and to his grassroots supporters who have been threatening other Republicans.
Before his announcement on Thursday, dozens of Republicans indicated that they were committed to opposing Jordan’s candidacy for speaker, The Washington Post reported.
The violent rhetoric used by Jordan’s supporters comes as the far right — particularly ardent supporters of Trump — is increasingly accepting the use of violence as means to a political end.
Polling last year demonstrated that a large swath of voters — equal to around 15 million Americans — would support the use of violence in order to get the former president back into the White House. Other examples of violent rhetoric in support of Trump or his policies abound, as Henry A. Giroux, a member of Truthout’s board of directors and the McMaster University Chair for Scholarship in the Public Interest in the English and Cultural Studies Department, noted in an op-ed last month.
According to Giroux:
Trump’s lies cannot be separated from the language of violence and its ongoing attempts to instill fear, promote threats against alleged opponents and inspire violence from his MAGA followers. His lies are inseparable from the creation of a language that promotes a lethal formative culture that wallows in the blood of those viewed as disposable, and that produces deranged anger and unchecked despair.
“Members of the Republican Party and other MAGA followers have become more willing to accept violence in the service of political power,” Giroux added, noting that “they are also willing to normalize mass shootings in the name of gun rights, accept the incorporation of extremist groups into the highest levels of power and normalize the use of violence to obtain political power regardless of the cost.”
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